Archive for June, 2007

My blog rating

It seems the content of my blog is milder than Barbara’s Bleeuugh! ;o)

It mentions ‘dead’ x 2.

Online Dating

Mingle2Online Dating

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Hsaio Hui (Teresa) and

Kai Chiang (Rupert) in Taiwan

I can’t speak Chinese which is a great pity because it is the first language of my only grandchild. Rupert was born in Taiwan on the second of November 2003 by caesarean section. Before his birth, his mother, Teresa,sent me in an email in which she expressed her concern about the size of his head. Her doctor had told her that if all the babies were put in a line, this one would have the biggest head. And this, I repeat, was before he was born! When she asked me about big heads in my family, I did recall that my father’s head had been rather large. Towards the end of his life it was large, round and smiley. Then I remembered that my mother had dressed me in coats with matching hats when I was a little girl and that she had to buy the hat a size larger than the coat. I hated hats and once managed to leave the offending article on a bus. So this child, who we knew to be a boy, had been endowed with a big head by his white Caucasian forbears.

It must have been quite traumatic expecting a baby of mixed racial ancestry however much she loved my son. It’s the fear of the unknown. The poor girl had an awful pregnancy: she was sick at the beginning and too large to move at the end which wasn’t helped by her having a weakness in her hips on account of vitamin D deficiency. She was also out for the count when, shortly after Rupert’s birth, my son was taking digital photographs and emailing them to us on the other side of the world.

As I said, Chinese is Rupert’s first language. His mother speaks fluent English and has a degree in English Literature. She describes my son’s Chinese as ‘an insult to my country’. I can say ‘hello’, ‘goodbye’ and ‘thank you’ but that’s about it. As far as the big head is concerned, I now think that Western heads and Asian heads are a different shape and are probably also measured in a different way. When Rupert was a toddler he always looked very dainty beside the other children. He has pale skin, a face the same shape as my son’s but his eyes are brown and slightly oriental and his hair is almost straight. Asians consider big eyes to be an asset, so he is thought to be handsome and his Taiwanese amma (grandmother) thinks that he is very smart. Her English isn’t any better than my Chinese, but she was able to communicate her approval!

Rupert in England

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Here’s to retirement!

I have decided to create a new blog for musings and fictional pieces, keeping my old blog for poetry. I’m anticipating having more time for blogging now that I’m finally giving up work. Things came to a head on Monday following a telephone conversation with a person who is a … I rang head office to register a complaint and left. This came on top of other pressures and was simply the last straw that broke the camel’s back. Anyway, I’ve been signed off work for a week – the doctor remarked that they don’t see me very often – and am giving in my notice. I’ve realised that I can’t make decisions for myself and my mother, who is becoming increasingly demented, whilst I’m working and worrying about what she is doing in my absence. Anyway, I think that what I really want is to be at home with more time to read and write rather than having more money. So here’s to my retirement!

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Post-colonial writing

‘m currently reading Christopher Okigbo’s poems, Labyrinths with Path of Thunder. I hadn’t even heard of Okigbo six months ago, but he’s a Nigerian poet, killed in the fighting for independence in Biafra. As I was reading about the history of slavery in Africa, I came across the British Oil River Protectorate and was reminded (thinking laterally) about a poem I wrote last year.

At the time, some of my fellow students found it a bit obscure so I’ll give you some explanations although I’ll let you read the poem first. This poem is not about Africa, it’s about China which I visited when my daughter, Kamsin, was teaching English at Nanjing Forestry University. I could write a lot more about that, such as how mother became a teaching aid and was taken in to talk to the students, but I won’t. Incidentally, I owe the idea to Pable Neruda’s wonderful poem,’Salt’.

An Eye for Beauty

Clippers carry china, bolts of silk and tea
from Canton to London
to sate the taste for chinoiserie

Virgins with pierced tongues
pick two leaves and a bud;
high above the distant Yangtze whorls.

Camellia senesis

Cha or Tay

You have an eye for beauty.

You are

pruned and punished

crushed and curled

bruised and bashed.

Clippers ferry flat brown cakes and canon balls
Calcutta to Canton
to feed the need for the white poppy.

In Lushan stands a doorman
in shako and heliotrope coat
blood-soaked and smeared with foreign mud.

The whisper of hot water
startles your rest
in busy station waiting rooms.

Anyway, in China absolutely everyone carries a few green tea leaves in a jar, which they fill up with hot water from a flask when required. I have an abiding image of the station waiting room where we went late one night to catch the train to Huangshan (another story). That’s the image with which the poem ends. Basically it’s about the way tea is subjected to a punishing process to convert it from green to the black tea we drink and how the British East India Company traded opium, which they had bought in India, to the Chinese in exchange for tea and silk. Some of the information, including the girls with pierce tongues and details of a hotel in Lushan, I got from a book called The River at the Centre of the World by Simon Winchester.

Jardine, Matheson & Co sent China tea to England whilst illegally selling Indian opium to the Chinese. This led, in 1840, to the Opium Wars between Britain and China. (Source: Wikipedia)

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I’ve been tagged by chiefbiscuit so have to write down eight random facts about myself. After that I will tag eight more people who will have to do the same.

First of all here are the rules.
1. I have to post these rules before I give you the facts. 2. Each participant posts eight random facts about themselves. 3. Tagees should write a blogpost of eight random facts about themselves. 4. At the end of the post, eight more bloggers are tagged (named and shamed). 5. Go to their blog, leave a comment telling them they’re tagged (cut and run).

Fact 1
I was born in a village called Timperley in the north of England in on a beautiful June day (so I’m told although I don’t actually remember). I was delivered at home by a midwife who came on her bicycle. I’m also told that I was a beautiful baby but the photographs tell a different story. I was fat with a shock of black hair.
Fact 2
My only brother was also born at home, nine years later in London. He was delivered by my maternal grandmother and I remember crying into the net curtains in the kitchen because I wanted a sister or maybe it was because everyone was too busy to remember my existence. My dad was busy pulling pints in the pub downstairs which my parents managed.
Fact 3
When I went to school I asked my mother why she hadn’t called me ‘Marian’ to which she replied that it wasn’t a name she’d even thought of. She thought she had given me an unusual name but there were three of us in my class at school.
Fact 4
I hate being short especially now that I’m getting older and fatter. I seem to have been trying to lose weight for the last twenty years. Yesterday, I bought new digital scales so maybe. The trouble is that I do like eating.
Fact 5
I thought that none of my children were ever going to get married. I also thought that this was possibly my fault as I wasn’t very good at it myself. My mother says I’m no good at choosing or rather she said that before she started to suffer from dementia. It came as a big surprise when my eldest son not only got married but presented me with a grandson. My daughter-in-law is Taiwanese and my son describes her as completely bonkers.
Fact 6
I’ve nearly always had a cat. After a long line of females, I now have Jack who is eight. My youngest son brought him home saying that he was to keep my company when he left home to go to University. He’s now got a cat of his own named Herman. I don’t do very well with dogs. I once had a lovely border collie puppy called Kip who got out one day and was last seen licking the bride’s face at a wedding. Our last dog called Sadie was knocked down by a car.
Fact 7
I regard myself as a Townie but I’ve lived in the country for the last thirty-one years. I know how long it is because we moved to the new Forest when my daughter, who is thirty-one, was four months old.
Fact 8
I’ve always wanted to write but have decided that I don’t have the stamina to keep trying to be published so I’ve settled for blogging.


I’ll tag jan, red and i beatrice then I’ll have to look around some people who have ben here and haven’t been tagged.

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Reminiscing about Africa

I’ve been too busy with annoying intrusions from life to do much blogging lately. At the moment, I’m reading Abdulrazak Gurnah’s Paradise which was nominated for the 1994 Booker Prize. It reminded me of my visit to East Africa in 1991. I’ve re-drafted a poem I wrote some time later. The original was in the form of a river but Blogger doesn’t seem to be able to cope with that!

Sketches of

The hour glass of light
falls on primeval
red dust
beaten grass
and embattled bushes.

Buffalo wait
outside the lodge
where we sleep
under our
mosquito nets.

Masai women
scrub washing
in the river
before selling beads
to tourists.

Primordial lava,
once erupted fitfully
but now we climb
Mount Longanot
in mid-day heat

and walk round the
empty crater’s rim.
A light breeze moves
over Lake Navasha
scattering pretty flamingos.

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